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Staying Positive in Negative Times

woman with open arms standing in field

Our emotions are heavily influenced by our environment, and it may be difficult to find the positive energy needed to move forward. However, we do have control over our reactions to life’s challenges. We cannot control our circumstances, but we can control how we respond to them. Individuals can develop skills to become resilient in the face of adversity, as well as develop nurturing habits to create a positive attitude. While positive thinking works for many people, it is often not that simple. There are important tools that can assist you.

Develop a strong support team. These are people who can provide a caring and positive outlook. Technology has provided great opportunities to connect with positive supporters during this time. Interact with others who are willing to discuss solutions and possibilities for the future. Positive energy flows through people helping others; reach out for support, as needed, and be ready to reciprocate as you are able.

Reevaluate what is important. Resilient people gain strength and vitality by defining their personal values and sticking with them rather than reacting to problems. Make a list of your core values and post them. When faced with adversity revisit the list and determine whether the solution to the problem relates to your core values. If so, proceed with your course of action. If not, step back and re-evaluate the solution in relation to your values.

Create a place to rejuvenate yourself. Having a place to relax and refresh is essential to moving forward. It may be a physical place. Fill it with positive tools such as books, music, photographs or movies. Or take a mental escape by closing your eyes, breathing deeply and picturing yourself in a place that bring you peace and joy. Clutter can be a barrier to creating a place of peace and rather create a sense of stress. Take time to get rid of the physical, as well as the mental, clutter you have gathered.

Focus on your physical well-being. Our physical well-being provides us the strength to enjoy life and endure its unexpected challenges. It also provides an opportunity to be a strong supporter of others. Be sure you are eating nutritious foods, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and finding a way to be physically active. Just a few minutes of daily activity will help rejuvenate you and energize your mind and body.

Be grateful. By identifying and appreciating the positive in our lives our mood lifts instantly. Each day no matter the circumstances, there are things to be grateful for. Become aware of the little things we daily take for granted. Start a gratitude journal. At the end of every day write three things you had to be thankful for that day. At the end of the week and month review all of your blessings and begin to focus on that. Sharing these blessings may lift the spirits of others.

Surround yourself with positive resources and people. Filling our environment with positive resources and people will reduce stress and provide positive energy. However, negativity will creep back into our daily lives. The best way to combat the negativity is to resist the temptation to be pulled into arguments. Accept that you may not always agree, and you that you may never change the mind of the other person. Remain calm, take a few deep breaths and remember that you are in control of your feelings and reactions.

Enjoy your hobbies. Researchers state that people with hobbies have better physical health as well as a more positive outlook on life. Schedule time to enjoy your hobby. If you don’t have a hobby, take this time to learn something new, which may keep your mind sharp and boost your self-confidence.

Life can be challenging and adversity can change our lives forever. Overcoming the tough times will make us stronger and more resilient. Move forward and become an inspiration to your family and friends.

Cheryl Kaczor is a WVU Extension Service Families and Health agent in Marshall County.